The mumblings of a Christian autistic husband, dad, IT guy and amateur radio operator - Will Brokenbourgh / AF7EC
So, it starts...
Disclaimer: I am a FreeBSD fan. It's my desire to run my favorite desktop environment on top of FreeBSD. FreeBSD appears to be a bit more secure than Linux and I like FreeBSD's simplicity when it comes to configuration and the blissful lack of the Linux disease named 'systemd'.
Unfortunately I've found through numerous attempts that FreeBSD ports/packages are very buggy. Currently, using FreeBSD as a desktop system for running my business is pretty difficult when programs such as Firefox, Thunderbird, and PCManFM disappear, crash and dump core frequently. These kinds of issues just do not happen when I use these programs on Linux. FreeBSD has proven itself to me as a great server OS in recent times, but right now I'm focused on desktop needs.
Because people on Twitter and elsewhere have complained that I should have
built my FreeBSD ports from scratch with
I recently decided I would indulge them and also take notes during the process.
Following are those notes and comments about what happened.
6:40 pm - Start install of FreeBSD 10.3 amd64
7:00 pm - Reboot after install yields 'Boot loader too large' error. Will install again
7:04 pm - Start install again
7:12 pm - Boot into new system, update system using
freebsd-update fetch install
7:15 pm -
freebsd-update fetch error -
'The update metadata is correctly signed, but failed an integrity check.
Cowardly refusing to proceed further'. Will try a reboot
7:18 pm - Reboot
7:19 pm -
freebsd-update fetch causes same error
7:25 pm - Is a confirmed issue, and others are experiencing it too. The bug is not fixed as of this moment. Abandoning project until fixed
11:26 am -
freebsd-update fetch issue
apparently resolved. Trying updating again
11:27 am -
freebsd-update fetch succeeded
11:28 am - Reboot after update
11:31 am - Performing
portsnap fetch extract
11:36 am - Editing
11:40 am - Building openbox - Failed for some reason (turns out build system didn't like my debug flags '-O0 -g')
11:42 am - Building openbox again after removing
DEBUG_FLAGS in bsd.port.mk. Build succeeded
1:22 pm - Build xorg
1:49 pm -
startx works. twm
working fine. Now will build other needed packages
4:00 pm - firefox build failed. Will try building qupzilla so I can report the firefox build error
4:57 pm - qupzilla-qt5 builds without error, but crashes when setting preferences: "ASSERTION FAILED: m_cacheDirectory.isNull()"
5:00 pm - Giving up. It's pretty obvious that FreeBSD ports are too unstable for 'real' desktop work
Please keep in mind that I accepted the default build options for all of the packages except that I did choose 'DEBUG', when available. I did not choose any weird / exotic / unreliable build options at all.
So, what do you do when 'enough is enough'? To be honest, I'm 'cowardly refusing to proceed further', as the error message said. Why would I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to debug all of this when I can install Debian or PCLinuxOS and everything 'just work'? If I wanted to stay in FreeBSD, I could use pkg to install packages instead of building them, but then all of the Twitter-using FreeBSD-defenders would wag their collective fingers at me and tell me to 'build with debug flags' when my frequently-used apps crash on me. Argh!
I'm a decent programmer, but I really don't have the time or brain-power to help the FreeBSD package maintainers fix buggy packages. I run a busy remote IT business while also raising my young son (who has special needs) during daylight hours, then I'm usually spent by the time my beautiful wife gets home from her job. I might sound lazy or lacking commitment to open-source software, but hey, I'm in my late forties, am on the autism spectrum and tire easily -- gimme a break, okay???
That FreeBSD makes these packages/ports available should mean that they are of decent quality and not exploding time-bombs. Not all of the packages/ports are bad, but the ones that are popular, such as firefox, thunderbird, pcmanfm sure have issues. It's like buying a new Maserati (FreeBSD core) then watching as the mirrors, gas tank and bumpers (ports/packages) come loose and fall off the car while driving it down the street. Frustrating and maddening!
If I do happen to try this experiment again, I will append it to this posting. I'm frequently excited to see a new release of FreeBSD, only to be discouraged when I see my favorite packages/ports still have major issues. Maybe one day -- one fine day...
God bless you and thank you for visiting my blog!